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Old 12-06-2008, 04:11 AM   #1
ddclutch
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Wireless network problem on hp2133, BroadCom running Suse Enterprise 10


I have a new hp2133 running Suse Linux Enterprise v 10 from Novell. I am having problems with wireless network connection.
The difficulty is that the problem seems to be erratic.

Most of the time I can get no connection at all. At other times I can get connected to my router but internet connections either time out or the DNS fails It will find sites if I enter the ISP, but not by name.
For a few brief minutes I have actually been able to get an internet connection and browse sites, when it has worked well, but the euphoria of success has never lasted long!

I have tried with both DHCP and with static IP. It has worked with both and also failed to work with both so I suspect the fault lies elsewhere.

Pointing at the "twin monitor" icon in the system tray shows "no network connection. the pop up there shows "Enable network" as ticked, but nothing else. There is no apparent indication of WiFi and I cannot find anything that provides a WiFi scanner although I know there are several WiFi networks within range.

Can anyone suggest how I can sort this out please?
 
Old 12-06-2008, 05:02 AM   #2
jschiwal
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Actually, this sounds a lot like a problem I had with Vista on my new laptop. It was constantly trying to re-authenticate with a new Linksys router. I found that the router had problems authenticating if IPv6 was enabled. Maybe it is a common generic problem with the wireless router you are tying to authenticate with.

Which kernel driver are you using? Newer OpenSUSE (10.3, 11) used the b43 driver. This is a function of the kernel. There is also the older bcm43xx kernel module for older drivers.

Another possibility is that the wrong firmware was used. Some drivers seem to work, but not work very well. Look at the files that came with the bc43-fwcutter (or bcm43xx-fwcutter) package.
E.G.: rpm -ql bc43-fwcutter

They include script to automatically download and install the currect firmware.
 
Old 12-06-2008, 06:26 AM   #3
ddclutch
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Thanks jschiwal,
I have several other computers on the network that all work fine. It is just this new hp Netbook that is giving problems.
I have tried it with and without IPv6 enabled - that's not it.

I am completely new to Linux so I am not sure what the rest of your advice means. Sorry, I would need more basic help here!
Where do I find what driver is installed? And I don't know what a fwcutter package is.
The machine was supplied pre-installed and with no OEM CDs

Label on the base says it has BroadCom BCM94312. I presume this is the WiFi card. I am suspecting a mis-match of driver with this card, but that is just a wild guess and I am not sure how to check if this is the case, or how I would fix that!

Guy
 
Old 12-06-2008, 08:04 AM   #4
Hangdog42
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If you look at the output of lspci, that frequently will tell you what chipset is running the card. If it is indeed a 4312, then Broadcom has actually released a Linux driver that avoids a lot of the problems associated with b43/b43-legacy. It is NOT an open source driver, but it probably works better than a lot of the alternatives.

It is very possible that HP has already been using this driver. If you look in the output of lsmod, you should either see b43 or wl.
 
Old 12-13-2008, 10:53 AM   #5
ddclutch
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Thanks Hangdog,
Sorry I have been away and unexpectedly without internet access so that is why I went quiet!

I tried lspci which conforms that the Network Controller is a Broadcom BCM4310 (although the sticker on the base of the hp2133 does say BCM94312)

But running lsmod shows up neither b43 or wl. Perhaps this indicates that the driver is indeed missing?
 
Old 12-13-2008, 02:49 PM   #6
Hangdog42
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Either the driver is missing or it hasn,t been loaded. It is pretty likely that b43 is there, just not loaded. Try running modprobe b43 (as root)and see what happens. If you just get the command prompt back, then b43 is there and has loaded. The modprobe command only says something if there is an error. However, to get b43 to work, you also need to install firmware. Have a read here on installing b43 firmware.
 
Old 12-13-2008, 02:56 PM   #7
ddclutch
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Hi Hangdog,
I tried modprobe b43 and got a return of
FATAL: Module b43 not found

Just going to check out your link on firmware... ... ...
 
Old 12-13-2008, 04:24 PM   #8
ddclutch
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Well I checked out that link.
I think I follow some of it but I am really beyond the limits of my understanding.
If I read it correctly it refers to Linux release numbers 2.6.24 and later. Mine is running version 2.6.16.54, so I presume this is an earlier version and I am not sure what to do next.
 
Old 12-14-2008, 05:49 AM   #9
ddclutch
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The wireless device is a Broadcom BCM4310 (rev 01)

I ran dmesg and it appears to be recognising an "HP Integrated Module" manufactured by "Broadcom" but I am not sure if this is the wireless card or possibly an ethernet card from the same manufacturer.

I then ran iwconfig and got "no wireless extension" reports for lo and eth0 (as expected) but that was all. No report at all on any wireless device. So summat's up!
 
Old 12-14-2008, 07:51 AM   #10
Hangdog42
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Quote:
If I read it correctly it refers to Linux release numbers 2.6.24 and later. Mine is running version 2.6.16.54, so I presume this is an earlier version and I am not sure what to do next.
OK, that explains a lot. I think you have a a couple options here:

- Install ndiswrapper and use a Windows driver. The bcm43xx driver (which would work with that kernel) isn't very good and is no longer supported, so ndiswrapper is probably your best choice.

- Switch distros. Distros like SLES are designed to be stable, less cutting edge, and therefore lag significantly behind Linux development. Given how fast wireless support has moved since SLES 10 was introduced, in this particular area, that means there are a lot of options you can't really take advantage of.
 
Old 12-14-2008, 01:13 PM   #11
ddclutch
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Are you sure that ndiswrapper is still supported?
The Wiki link you posted is dead. I did find the SourceForge site but it doesn't seem to be very active now. I couldn't find any "How to" information on how to use ndiswrapper or any list of compatible drivers. All seems a bit dead now?
 
Old 12-14-2008, 01:37 PM   #12
Hangdog42
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I'm pretty sure ndiswrapper is still supported. The kernel devs got stupid and smacked ndiswrapper around a while ago, and I think that the ndiswrapper team probably decided to slow things down a bit. At any rate, they had a release in the spring of this year, so that one is probably fine. Their site used to be one of the best around for figuring out how to get wireless cards working, but when they moved to Sourceforge, everything seems to have been thrown away. I'll be sure to delete that broken link in my sig. As far as how-tos, there used to be an absolutely excellent on in the ndiswrapper tarball. Try downloading and extracting the package and see if the README or INSTALL files are still there.

Besides, you really don't have a lot of choices. You could upgrade your kernel and use b43 if Suse has a newer one available, but you would still have to install firmware. If you don't want to upgrade your kernel, bcm43xx is in even worse shape than ndiswrapper. Oh, and be sure to thank Broadcom for this situation. Their refusal to support most of their stuff on Linux has been a major pain in the backsides of a lot of people.
 
Old 12-14-2008, 02:52 PM   #13
ddclutch
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OK,
I will try downloading the latest ndiswrapper version that I can find which I think dates from May '08.

You are right about Broadcom though! I have found a list of network cards that have driver support at:
http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Devices/PCI

Not sure how up to date that is but it doesn't include the specific product version that I have installed. Broadcom clearly ignore Linux as an OS!

But the list may be of use to someone else who passes by this way!

I guess I could install a newer version of Linux. I see that Suse v11.1 is about to be released. But there is no guarantee that the Broadcom card would work with that version either although they do claim a lot of new drivers with it.

Not sure how upgrading works on Linux. Would downloading a newer version upgrade my existing, or would it work as a completely new installation? If the latter, I guess I could create a new partition and set it to dual boot. Just in case anything goes wrong. I would then still have the existing earlier version to revert to. Or perhaps this doesn't make sense anyway?

Guy
 
Old 12-14-2008, 04:35 PM   #14
Hangdog42
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Quote:
I guess I could install a newer version of Linux. I see that Suse v11.1 is about to be released. But there is no guarantee that the Broadcom card would work with that version either although they do claim a lot of new drivers with it
Your card will never work straight off with any Linux distro since it requires firmware that Broadcom won't distribute, so at very least with a newer distro you're likely to have to create and install firmware files. That said, wireless in Linux has been moving at a fairly fast pace for the last year, so it is unlikely to put you in a worse situation. The b43 driver appears to be a reasonable improvement over bcm43xx.

Quote:
Not sure how upgrading works on Linux. Would downloading a newer version upgrade my existing, or would it work as a completely new installation?
It really kind of depends on the distro, and since I'm not a Suse user, my answer is going to be vague. It is highly likely that there is an upgrade path and it is also likely that Suse would have some documentation on how to do it correctly.

Quote:
If the latter, I guess I could create a new partition and set it to dual boot. Just in case anything goes wrong. I would then still have the existing earlier version to revert to. Or perhaps this doesn't make sense anyway?
Creating a new partition is certainly one way to attack the problem. At least then you'll always have a functional Suse install. I guess the problem is that if you end up not using one of the partitions, you'd have a chunk of disk space that was not being used.
 
Old 12-15-2008, 01:14 PM   #15
ddclutch
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Grrr! I am getting SO frustrated with this process. From being a reasonably competent MS user having grown up as it were with DOS applications, learning my way around Linux is like stumbling around in a blacked out room and nailing jelly to the backside of an angry gorrila! I have yet to find any one place that simulates anything like a comprehensive manual on how to use Linux.

I have downloaded what I think is the relevant ndiswrapper.tar file to my working (MS XP) laptop and transferred that with a USB memory stick to a new folder on my Linux desk top. When I then opened that .tar file it has produced around 50 files and I don't know which are needed or what to do with them!

Broadcom state that they do not provide wireless drivers for their products! The HP site do have an XP driver for the HP2133 Netbook, but although their reference number matches the sticker on the bottom (BCM94312) this is not the same version number as came up when I used lspci and got BCM4310 (rev 01) I guess I will just have to shut my eyes and hope for the best with this! I downloaded the XP driver file (its an .exe file so I don't know what Linux will make of that!) and have transferred it to a second folder on the Linux desk top.

I found a "Software Management" tool in Yast. But entering ndiswrapper in the search window doesn't find my file on the desktop and doesn't seem to allow me to browse for it. It appears to be set up to install files from a vendor CD (which I don't have) or from a Repository site (which I cannot access without a working internet connection which is what I am trying to set up in the first place!)

I have been playing with this thing since I bought it over 4 weeks ago and am making nil progress! I am sorely tempted just to stick it on Flea-bay and cut my losses with it and with Linux!

Guy
 
  


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